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Smart office, the necessary integrations for hybrid workplaces

There is no longer the full time desk. It is not just a play on words, but the synthesis of a revolutionary change that technology has brought in various fields:not only in the working habits of many people, but also in real estate projects and their construction sites, and in the marketing of spaces. A new material has come forward forcefully, digital information, with it data and software, which have allowed the working spaces to take on new forms. The walls have dematerialized like documents, meetings have become distributed, space and time have met in a new form, on-demand. So let’s make a rundown of all the most important changes that software has brought to offices, to understand how to properly design a workspace in 2022.

Smart office, what does it mean to have technology in the office

First of all it is necessary to understand what technology we are talking about. Personal computers, printers, but also ERPs…  have already been present in the workplace for many years and are no longer something revolutionary. They also did not have a huge impact on the organization of the spaces. To refer to the most advanced technology today we generally say intelligent technology, or smart devices. But for those who need to know and understand opportunities and new business models, there are two fundamental labels to remember: IoT and cloud. We now give two brief definitions:

IoT, or the Internet of Things is, to simplify, the integration of electronic boards, but most notably of software, within everyday objects (in the most advanced cases we can also speak of edge computing, we will see more come on).

The cloud, shortly, is the availability of huge computing capacities, of countless software services, security and communication, on the public Internet (or sometimes on private networks), and therefore wherever there is a network.

We had to recall these two concepts because they are necessary, but also sufficient, to understand the entire revolution taking place. In fact, almost all (if not all) software integrations for smart offices are based on the IoT and / or the cloud. Let’s see what that means in practice, before tackling the main types of integrations for a smart workspace.

  • The software integrations are no longer installed locally on the servers in the office, but they are available with web interfaces (web App), or for smartphones with dedicated Apps. They are therefore accessible at any time from any authorized device;
  • The software is distributed, that is, it is distributed in the objects (in the locks, in the air conditioners, in the floors, …), and it is distributed in the space (only one control panel can manage spaces and buildings even in different countries);
  • Software is a service, it is purchased by subscription as long as it is necessary, and whoever buys it does not have to deal with its maintenance or updating.

These three characteristics, if well understood also in the design phase, allow the integration of countless functions and services in the work spaces, thus increasing the value of these spaces and making them more attractive to companies and the workforce of the future.

Meeting rooms, open spaces, and interaction with spaces

In the last 20 years we have seen the emergence of the open space paradigm almost everywhere as an organizational solution for workspaces. It is a solution that promotes socialization between colleagues, team operations, and a more open and transparent work style. But it also has its drawbacks: it can be very damaging to concentration, as well as not favoring the privacy that is sometimes necessary to carry out certain activities. Therefore, other solutions were born, to be combined with the open space, to offer workspaces suitable for different activities. Meeting rooms have been designed, private rooms for those seeking privacy and concentration, phone booths to be able to stay on the phone without disturbing colleagues, etc. . . And thus the need arose for an agenda, a calendar for resources, because access to these spaces is shared, and these can be used exclusively for a defined time only, that is, they must be booked.

Download: Coworking solution sheet

Sofia Locks Luckey is a complete access control platform, designed to serve the real estate industry. A platform allows any type of company, from the SME to the Enterprise level, to integrate the smart management of spaces and resources.

To book shared resources in the office

Having to book a meeting room to be able to use it is certainly not new. But the development of increasingly comfortable and responsive solutions for reservations had already had its effect on the management of workspaces over the past few years. Until the first coworking appeared: spaces designed with the idea that all resources could be shared for more efficient space management, and to offer important benefits to companies and workers. Coworking has increasingly established itself both as an independent reality and as an organizational paradigm of work spaces: not only meeting rooms, but also workstations, company cars, equipment, … everything is accessible on demand. An interface on the laptop or mobile phone allows users to browse the resources available on the calendar, book them, and access them when they need them.

Today, integrating a booking management system is absolutely necessary for every company, regardless of how the spaces are organized. What is changing is how and who is integrating these services. If in the beginning it was just a matter of managing a shared calendar, today thanks to the IoT and the cloud, we are talking more about interaction with space, availability of resources and security. The owner (landlord) or the manager (tenant) is then asked to prepare the spaces with adequate technology.

Those who use the spaces expect to be able to:

  • manage access permissions in a granular way remotely
  • have real-time traffic control in spaces
  • know space and resources exploitation
  • manage the use of energy and services according to the request

and much more.

To manage all these services, there are appropriate software solutions, which require technological platforms that allow their integration. It is up to those who design the spaces to decide which technology to integrate, increasing the value of the buildings, so that those who use them can easily integrate the software they prefer.

The most efficient way to manage the office

Once a suitable technology platform is in place, software integrations can collect an innumerable amount of data. The integrations that make data available and manipulate the entire supply chain of the real estate market, from landlords, to tenants, to companies.

It is well known that data has changed many businesses from top to bottom in the era of the digital revolution. Real estate is certainly one of them. We have already mentioned coworking, taking them for example as pioneers in the optimization of shared resources. Now the more strictly economic-financial aspect of this type of management of workspaces should be highlighted. In an era in which remote work is possible and increasingly common, in which people move with extreme ease to bring their professionalism where it is needed, and in which it is possible to carry out many activities on the move, In an era in which remote work is possible and increasingly common, in which people move with extreme ease to bring their professionalism where it is needed, and in which it is possible to carry out many activities on the move,. For many companies it is no longer necessary to have owned offices with a number of workstations equal to the employees present in that geographical area. In fact, there are at least two more convenient solutions:

  • Reduce office space and encourage rotation between remote and on-site work;
  • Rent workstations (or entire areas) in , coworkings or proworkingspaces, so as to rationalize the cost in a single item and download the cost of maintenance and services to the supplier of the spaces.

Solutions that are possible thanks to new models of organization and marketing of spaces, based on the reactive management of information and data analysis.

A second fundamental integration for the smart office is therefore an efficient space management panel, accompanied by reports for data analysis. Those who manage a modern space need adequate functionality, which allow to:

  • manage many resources with agility and a limited number of actions,
  • access the control panels from any location and on the move,
  • manage the access permissions to spaces and systems in safety (whether of users or other managers),
  • have data in real time and in meaningful form.

and more.

In order to create new business models, it is essential to equip the responsible figures with adequate tools for the work they will have to carry out An aspect that is too often overlooked and that can instead play a fundamental role in the success of a company.

IoT, cloud, and privacy in the workplace

The regulations regarding privacy and user rights, such as the GDPR, are now consolidated, and companies are required to comply with them. Furthermore, the users themselves are increasingly aware and attentive to the use that is made of their data. The quality and transparency in data management has a great weight in the evaluation of a company both by institutional subjects and by the market.

Whatever software integration is adopted, it is good practice to ensure that:

  • comply with current regulations,
  • allow system managers to manipulate data securely and be able to delete it if necessary,
  • allows end users to know what information is recorded by the system, and gives them the maximum possible freedom in managing their data.

The suppliers of quality software platforms and integrations are able to provide documentation and assistance regarding the safety in the use of their solutions. The digital revolution is increasingly transforming the most important suppliers into partners, who link their interests to those of the company towards a common growth of the business.

Increase employee and professional productivity by promoting autonomy

There are many studies that have found a correlation between corporate productivity and work autonomy. The most innovative companies have long implemented work management models based on autonomy and responsibility. Most of these models are possible, or in any case supported, by the digital revolution that offers tools suitable for communication and agile organization. The smart office is the place of choice for the most innovative methods of work management: the presence of adequate technological solutions allows people to develop maximum autonomy in carrying out their duties. Being able to decide where and how to work, move according to needs, create dynamic work groups that respect the needs of all the components, are some of the main aspects of these work environments. But the software integrations that have appeared on the market in recent years have brought countless other possibilities for interaction within the offices. Today, innovative companies and workspaces offer dedicated Apps that allow people to communicate with each other and with the company itself, to access a wide variety of services (lockersvending machines, gyms, parking lots, …), to access digital market place and not, to know data on their activities in the office, and much more.

The solutions are virtually infinite and their integration is becoming easier and easier. Once an adequate technological platform has been implemented, any type of service can be added with the simple connection of the dedicated software, i.e. without expenses or complex interventions, and is immediately available on all authorized devices.

Hybrid workplace, the future of the smart office

Interaction with space, intelligent management and autonomy in the office, all supported by adequate services and a new culture in the workplace: these are the fundamental elements that create the smart office. And it is in this context that the new trend is born, the hybrid workplace!

The innovations listed so far, driven by the desire to react to the pandemic, and by a new awareness of work typical of the Millennial generation, has given birth to a brand new culture. Working in a hybrid way means having greater control of your time, deciding when you need to be present in the office, or when working from home is more productive. It also means being able to freely coordinate with colleagues and managers to achieve maximum productivity. And it also means being able to take out benefits that once could not even be considered, such as a job closer to home, or more time to be able to devote yourself to your family. All this is not only the result of a new situation that people and companies have found themselves having to face, but also the result of an active commitment in the search for solutions and technologies that can support these dynamics.

It is the technology that allows people to be able to compare themselves remotely, via video call, with shared documents and increasingly immersive digital experiences. And it is always the technology that allows people to access any coworking space as if they were accessing the headquarters of their company, finding all the comforts, equipment and spaces needed to work. And finally, it is still the technology that allows companies to orchestrate a dynamic workforce, as are young professionals, with agile operations and correct economies.

A platform for smart office and hybrid workplace

We have talked about the platform on more than one occasion, but without giving more information about it. It is time to take up this concept and give a brief description that allows us to understand its importance. We have seen how it is possible to integrate different software solutions, each dedicated to the solution of one or more aspects of the smart office. The software itself is a very powerful tool, both because it is able to arrive easily on all devices, and therefore be available to everyone, and because it is able to evolve and adapt to new needs with an unthinkable speed for hardware solutions. What software needs to express its maximum potential is an adequate platform, or a mix of hardware and software technologies that in turn act as a basis, a link between software and physical reality. In the case of the real estate market, it is evident that the platform is particularly relevant, in a context in which everything takes place in the relationship between people and the space designed for their activities. A platform for the management of a hybrid workplace must guarantee:

  • Proper sizing of the cloud infrastructure and particular attention to its security: cloud technology is revolutionary, and for this reason it must be provided by companies specialized in managing and securing infrastructures.
  • Quality IoT hardware, which is pluripotent and responsive to the workload: the solidity of the hardware and its capabilities make the difference herean example is edge computing, or the ability to bring software intelligence directly into devices (for example in locks), i.e. as close as possible to users and interaction, so as to increase responsiveness and safety.
  • Professionals and specialists capable of providing the correct technologiesand understanding the needs of the client company: new technologies have brought the role of people back to the center, allowing them to design spaces (with co-design processes) in order to respond exactly to their needs.

The concept of platform is therefore complex, and involves both technological and professional aspects.

The access control solution for smart office and hybrid workplace

Access control is a key service in the management of any real estate project, in particular for the management of modern workspaces. Guaranteeing flexibility without sacrificing the necessary security within the company perimeters is the great challenge of real estate in this area.

Sofia Locks has developed an access control system that meets all the requirements of a platform to support the hybrid workplace. Thanks to the hardware of ISEO’s ultimate access control solutions, the expertise in developing cloud native software of the Sofia Locks development team, and the experience gained by our access control advisors, we are able to provide enterprise solutions of the highest quality for the workplace. specialist in the international real estate sector.

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